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Dream Big - The Story of Wondercraft

A lot of people have been asking me lately about how Wondercraft began. It's a bit of a long story and it goes back many years, so I thought now was a great opportunity to tell you that story.

Let's start with an intro - I'm Rhiannon aka the creator of Wondercraft. Although I wasn't born here (I was born in Australia but please don't hold it against me), I have lived in Tauranga pretty much my whole life, other than when I was a student attending Art School in Wellington. I'm married to my best friend and we've been together for 19 years. We have two kids who are 10 and 12 years old. I never thought I would have kids, and if someone had said to me 10 years ago my job in the future would involve mainly working with kids I would have laughed in their face. But here I am, and most of the time I absolutely love what I do.

My Family

I grew up as an only child with very little family around, so I didn't have very much interaction with other kids outside of school. Of course I had a few school friends, but I've always been a bit of a loner. Most of my childhood was spent alone, and despite that sounding a little orphan Annie I didn't actually think that was a bad thing, in fact I don't really like to share my personal space even now!

Some of my fondest memories of my childhood are op shop trips to find new treasures like jars of old buttons, assorted bags of bits & pieces and scraps of interesting fabrics. I was a bit of a magpie and would always be collecting random things off the footpath or knotted balls of ribbon and string off packaging etc. These treasures were my most precious things and I could spend hours just sorting through them.

I have also loved books my whole life and the library was my favourite place to be. I would get out the maximum amount of books allowed each time and spend hours going through them, trying to absorb as much information as possible. I loved to get out craft books and even before I could read I would be able to look at a picture of something, figure out how it was made and recreate it in my own way using my treasure trove of bits & pieces.

This is how I have always been, having a keen eye for collecting and recognising the potential of an often discarded object. I used to take it for granted, assuming this was just a skill everyone has. Turns out they don't! At some point I was able to realise that my every day skillset of assembling, learning and collecting was actually a talent, one that was actually quite sought after.

Growing up with all this creativity meant that I was eager to learn and I asked a lot of questions. I wanted to know why things did what they did or how things came to be what they are. Sometimes this level of being inquisitive isn't received too well within mainstream education, at least in my day, so when it came to schooling I got through as much of it as I needed to and then got out of there as soon as I could, with a dream of being some kind of artist. I craved the freedom of being able to create whatever I wanted, every day for the rest of my life.

Of course life simply doesn't always work out the way you want, so soon the reality of adulthood and life in general crushed that dream. If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn't have let reality burst my bubble so easily, but it took having a child with special needs to teach me to be resilient, confident and determined. Once our little guy was born, I went back to crafting. It became my therapy. I needed that time out to take my mind off the feelings of "why me" and "I can't do this". Crafting helped me see things in perspective - nothing you create is ever perfect and nothing ever turns out exactly how you imagined it would be. Reminding myself of these wee mantras was exactly the shift in mindset I needed to be able to mourn the child I thought I was getting, move on and celebrate the awesome child I had.

I got involved with an organisation called Parent to Parent when my son was a baby, attending a weekly craft group/support group for mums of kids with disabilities. That was the best decision I ever made and our group is still going 10 years later, having morphed from a support group run by an organisation into a genuine friendship for our group of Mums. During this time I was asked to run some craft days for siblings of kids with disabilities and that's how the seeds of Wondercraft started to grow.

As my son grew older I started thinking about how he would be starting school soon, but I would be limited in terms of finding a job because of his health issues. Not knowing what I was going to do with myself was weighing on me. I'm the kind of person that needs to be busy, otherwise I get too much time to think and those thoughts are usually not good for my mental health. So I knew I had to find something that would work around my family, keep me busy and be something that would make me happy. The universe spoke to me when I found an ad for a Makeup Art course and everything clicked into place.

During the makeup course we got an introduction to face painting. I had tried face painting back in my early twenties at some local markets, but I didn't have a clue about using the right kinds of paint, or safe hygiene practices etc so it wasn't very successful. This proper introduction to face painting really inspired me to try again, with new skills and knowledge about the right products to use.

Face painting eventually led me to learn how to do balloon twisting, as I was getting a lot of booking requests for both. There's not really anywhere you go to learn balloon twisting, so I was self-taught with the help of good old youtube. As my business grew I started getting requests for other activities at parties and seeing as I was already doing this for my own kids and their friends I decided to make it official and start offering craft party packages....and that's how I became Wondercraft! From the smallest beginnings my hobby has evolved to my own wee business, with my own venue where I run parties and classes. Every time I walk in the door I feel so proud of my third baby, how far it has come and the potential for growing that I can see for the future.

I wouldn't have got this far without my core supporters, the ones who have been coming along to classes and booking parties since I started. Back in the beginning I was pretty clueless and things were kinda chaotic. Things still get chaotic sometimes, but I like to think most of the time I have things planned and prepared so that everything runs smoothly, most of the time...!

I don't think I ever would have got here without that push I needed from the universe - to remember my dreams, to believe in myself and to have the confidence to dream big.


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